30 December 2005

Happy 2006!

The Pointy Universe will return Monday, January 2. Have a happy and safe New Year!

24 December 2005

A Holiday Blog from Vito

Ho, ho, friggin' ho, everyone. I suppose you all know by now that I was unwittingly exiled from the annual Christmas card. As usual I received the shit end of the stick. It is a cruel irony as I was the only one who actually sat still and mugged for the picture on a multitude of occasions since last July. The other two monkeys were running around with ants in their pants and could never quite make it through the nanosecond red-eye delay on the camera. In most of the shots I looked damned handsome too. An adjective that comes to mind is "regal." But wasn't it just my luck that I happened to be off taking a leak in the woods when Caroline and Paulie finally stood still for a photo. So, instead of a Christmas card appearance, I get to send my holiday messages through my mom's lame blog. My whole existence is a shitty consolation prize. So, Merry Friggin' Christmas. What I really want for Christmas is to find out who the hell you have to hump around here to get some parma proscuitto.

22 December 2005

Lucky Strike

This may sound crazy but I was watching coverage of the NYC transit strike and became envious. Nothing would make me happier right now than to load up the iPod, dress in eight layers, and walk to work. In my former life, I used to walk everywhere and I miss those moments of peace and solitude -- not to mention the exercise. Here in the burbs, there are no sidewalks on the main roads. So, while I'm within walking distance of Dunkies, I'm not about to risk my life strolling down Route 123 for a large regular.

But in this case, it's not so much the walking I'd enjoy as much as the departure from the status quo. I always enjoy an unexpected escape, even in the form of inconvenience. Back in school, a snow day or a lengthy teachers' strike would send most of us into the stratosphere. But I also adored fire drills. And if we were really lucky, a bomb threat (a false alarm, of course).

It's healthy to shake up the daily routine sometimes. Around Christmastime, my thoughts often turn to my days working downtown, when a bomb threat at South Station inspired an exodus to Weggies Pub in Chinatown. My co-workers and I treated ourselves to a mid-day holiday revel -- Heinekens and Burl Ives on the crappy jukebox. However, after only 30 minutes the pub's angry and obese owner, unaccustomed to an afternoon rush, swore at us in Chinese and said "Bomb o-vah. Get out." Unlike us, he didn't like to stray from the norm.

21 December 2005

"What I Really Want for Christmas" by WMD

I am truly fortunate to have the greatest family and friends going. I’m not being pompous;yours can be as good but they cannot be better. With that comes utmost generosity. Every year I am asked by many, “What would you like for Christmas?” I used to have a meaningful response -- a list. When I was a kid, the list would be detailed enough to include the store where items could be purchased. Having grown older, I’ve reached a point where I really don’t need anything that someone else should be buying me. The things I do need, i.e. a house, I should be buying myself, although I don’t want to insult anyone if you’ve already gone out and gotten me one this year...

Sadly, the only list I am able to make is one of things that I will never get. I don’t even mean the usual “world peace”, “cure for diseases” blah, blah, blah… I mean things from either childhood or the present that have passed or will never be. These are the things I would really like. They are not listed in any particular order, desire or cost:

1) I would like the Tin-Can Alley game that my friend Dan Seale had when we were kids.

2) I would like Jim Carrey to stop making movies.

3) I would like to see Mary Ann’s boobies from Gilligan’s Island (don’t be upset LP, it’s merely for nostalgic purposes so I can tell all my childhood friends “yeah, well, I saw ‘em”… it’s almost clinical.)

4) I would like one day where everyone on the planet has to bow when I’ve entered a room and loudly address me as “Sir”.

5) I would like Rosie O’Donnell a.k.a. Rosie O’Bacon to have as many cameras on her as possible and give her political opinion. At that point, I would like to see someone throw a large meatball sub that smacks her in the side of the face. The true casualty in this is the meatball sub.

6) I would like the original “Alf” suit. I would like a midget who can do a perfect Alf voice to live in this suit for one year. He will accompany me as my Valet. He will not wear any type of valet uniform however, that would look silly.

7) I would like to spend a day hanging around with Homer Simpson.

8)I would like to see SAC overcome his contempt for Dave Matthews, and join hands with him like the Whos in Whoville and sing Fahoo Forays…

I know the rest of you in the Pointy Universe must have your own list. There are still three shopping days until Christmas. Get out there.

Merry Christmas,


19 December 2005

Santa Speedo

(photo: Guess who's having the best birthday week ever?)

For her birthday, all Di wanted was to gather pals around a brunch table, or to quote the Candyman, bust out a bottle of Asti Spumanti, pop off the cork and rock with her posse. And it all began as planned at Joe's Americana on Newbury, one of the few restaurants progressive enough to serve brunch on Saturdays. We engaged our attentive and doting waiter George in flirtatious, witty banter like a bunch of old aunts. We showered Di with funky jewelry and sheer scarves and by the time she finished her Benedict, she looked like a belly dancer.

After brunch, Paige and Ingrid said they were off to the Santa Speedo Race, an annual half-naked charity dash involving men in Santa-red Speedos. Our curiosity and the desire to have another holiday cocktail with pals compelled us to sign on and continue our reveling down Boylston Street toward the Alley.

(photo: Paige unmoored in a sea of Santa Speedos)

We mentally prepared ourselves for the inevitable "bad nudity" or as LP put it, the "Speedon'ts" usually prevalent at such exhibitionist events. But once we arrived at the Alley, we were delightfully surprised by the scenery.

LP, looking around at all the heterosexual footwear, noted she was surprised to see the gay community so underrepresented at what seemed like a flagship event.

(photo: Say "Speeedo")

But seconds later, hot on the trail of red-bummed, hopelessly buff Philly Boys, came Ernesto and his pals, commenting that it's like Christmas. Tony had a press pass for the South End News and Boston.com which he used to snap up close and personal shots of a few choice Santas. Tony works for neither media outlet.

(photo: Christmas arrives early at the Big Cheesy)

As a rule, the Speedo is not a good look for anyone but there are exceptions and this was one of them. Maybe it was the Santa hats, or the charitable motives, or maybe the heat was cranked up too damn high at the Cheesy. As usual, what began as a sophisticated brunch outing became a sordid and sweaty affair.

15 December 2005

Sparkles: A Survivor's Story

Though he’s been a shade of dingy gray since the mid-70s, his name has always been Sparkles. He’s my 35-year-old stuffed Snoopy that I’ve had my entire life. While his ears and the majority of his facial features are long gone, Sparkles is a survivor – a sole survivor, actually. Originally there were three of them: Gorky, Sparkles and Woodman. To this day, I haven’t the faintest idea where we conjured up the names Gorky and Sparkles. Woodman, however, was a miniature Snoopy with a thick furrowed brow that gave him a similar countenance to that of Mr. Woodman, the vice principal from Welcome Back, Kotter.

Where I viewed the Snoopies as my best pals, my mother viewed them as rampant bacteria traps and a threat to public health. To prevent their untimely demise in a green trash bag, I had to subject them to an intense three-day cleaning ritual. Every few months, my mother put the Snoopies, who were not machine washable, into the washing machine where they became so waterlogged they were virtually unliftable. After one round in the dryer, they would be moved to the sun porch where – lined up like sunbathers on a Bionic Woman beach towel – they would dry out for three days, which seemed like an eternity to me.

Inevitably, tragedy struck one afternoon. Sparkles and Gorky emerged, dripping and sodden, from the washing machine but Woodman did not make it -- he’d completely disintegrated. I watched in horror as my mother scooped his linty remains from the inside of the washing machine with a measuring cup. A few months later, Gorky was beheaded in the same machine.
Luckily, Sparkles was a little heartier but over time his nose and ears became a casualty of the spin cycle. On a mission of mercy, my grandmother Nana Ree, turned one of my stuffed bunnies into an involuntary donor, transplanting his nose onto Sparkle’s naked snout and his ears onto his ill-shaped head. Then, realizing how stressed out I was every time wash day came around, Nana Ree uncovered some revolutionary dry cleaning solution for plush animals in Family Circle magazine that involved cornmeal and a semi-damp cloth. Sparkles never entered the washing machine again. He’s since lost his transplants but he’s still with us, and that’s what’s most important.

14 December 2005

The Silence of the Lambie

(photo: Lambie, rescued)

Last night, I uncovered yet another reason why I’m a superior candidate for analysis. I was transferring some empty wine bottles to the recycle bin downstairs when I spotted Lambie, Caroline’s cherished stuffed lamb, in the trash barrel. One of his fluffy limbs jutted out from beneath a Mount Blue pizza box, signaling for help. Horrified, I dug him out and immediately tossed him into the dryer with some fresh linen-scented Bounce to prevent the rancid stench of wet garbage from settling into his faux fleece.

I felt sick and anxiously paced the floors as I awaited the offender’s arrival home. When confronted, James matter-of-factly said he’d chanced upon Vito humping the lamb and determined it should no longer be in the house. He padded his argument with the fact that Caroline hasn’t played with Lambie that much as of late. He rolled in some of the witnesses in current rotation: Renny the elephant and the lazy-eyed doll, Baby Ryan. But I explained these were additions, not replacements, and how can you be so heartless?

Just when James was convinced I’d completely lost my mind, I realized why I was so upset about what he'd done: It’s something my mother would do. Seeing the lamb in the trash brought forth the heightened sense of anxiety and vigilance that ruled my life as a child. I lived in constant fear that my mother, arch enemy of clutter and dirt, would toss out something for which I cared deeply.

My bizarre attachment to “inanimate objects” was deemed illogical and therefore never considered when decisions were made about what was junk and what was not. I remember hurling myself on green trash bags, like a widow on a coffin. I remember experiencing the three stages of grief, at five years old, over a lost sneaker. Crazy and illogical yes, but the feelings of loss were no less real. And I never want Caroline to feel that way if she doesn't have to.

That said, I reminded James of the rug incident of three weeks ago. We’d purchased a new living room rug, and as James rolled up the old one and carted it off, Caroline became hysterical: “I want my rug back! Bring it back…Please!”

“You mean that old, dog hair-encrusted rug from Target that smells like feet,” I asked.

“I really, really need it, Mama,” she said, completely inconsolable. I saw the real pain in her face and I recognized it. The poor wee child has inherited my dysfunction.

(photo: Tearful reunion)

Even James agreed here: If Caroline had spotted Lambie in the trash, we would have
had to call 911.

PART II of this saga, "The Sparkles Factor," will appear on tomorrow's blog.

12 December 2005

Random Quizzilla

1) The word "coupon:" Pronounced "cue-pon" or "coo-pon?" I say "coo-pon" now but recall saying "cue-pon" when I was younger. I have no idea when or why the shift occurred but can say for certain it has not altered my day-to-day life in any way.

2) On average, how long do you spend in the shower? When I actually have opportunity to shower, I'd say it's a good 10 minutes, sometimes longer. I could spend an hour in there with a decent playlist and a deep conditioner.

3) Would you consider yourself outdoorsy? No. In fact, I'd classify myself as militantly indoorsy. I can enjoy the outdoors under very specific circumstances: Hanging out on beaches and boats with a well-packed cooler; hiking a heavily-trafficked trail that has access to snack bars and restrooms; and camping as long as there are outlets to plug in the coffee maker and hairdryer.

4) What were the most significant events to occur the year you were born (aside from your own arrival) and did those events have any effect on your life?


-WOODSTOCK - This is likely responsible for my mutant Flowerchild gene.

-First lunar landing - Affected everyone's lives, I suppose.

-Beatles' last public performance (on roof of Apple Records)- Almost 20 years later, this performance inspired U2's renegade rooftop video for "Where the Streets Have no Name." And I just love that.

-The Chappaquiddick incident - No effect, although I DO hate the nickname "Chappy."

-The Manson murders - I've always enjoyed the song Helter Skelter.

-The Boeing 747 debuts - Took my virgin voyage on a 747 as an exchange student heading to Paris in 1987. Made the acquaintance of "Dangerpants" on a 747 en route to London with Annie & LP in 2000.

5) Last three songs you downloaded? "Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives, "Songs for a Blue Guitar" by the Red House Painters, and "This House is Not for Sale" by Ryan Adams

09 December 2005

Cream Shop Friday: Busted

(photo: SAC and Chris Martin enjoy a jolly frolic in Holland Park)
Martin recently outed the couple when he noted the song "Kingdom Come" was not inspired by Johnny Cash, but a boyishly handsome American named Scott Andrew Cyr. Neither has plans to leave their movie star/supermodel wives.

*artwork courtesy of WMD

Cream Shop Friday is a feature on this blog detailing the biggest distraction of the week.

07 December 2005

The Man Who Ruins Everything

There are some people in this world that simply rub us the wrong way. James, on the other hand, is generally patient and accepting of most. He is rarely bothered by the kinds of clueless, self righteous and self-aggrandizing fools that make my blood boil. However, when he is annoyed, he is fiercely annoyed -- and not by the people you'd think. Stirring his ire is a motley cast of seemingly unprovacative characters who would not garner any emotions -- positive or negative -- from most of us.

For instance, Queen Elizabeth and the entire British Monarchy: "total bullshit." The completely innocuous Dave Matthews: "a fucking jerk."

But to James, Public Enemy #1 is Peter Wolf.

I learned this a few years ago when we were going to see Bruce Springsteen at Fenway. We'd popped into Copperfields to have a drink and meet up with Billy J. We overhead the group of people next to us talking about they'd just spotted Wolf outside on his way to the Springsteen show. Out of nowhere, a jovial Jimmy became irate; he swore loudly and started mumbling to himself.

"What's wrong with you," I asked.

"Fucking Peter Wolf. He's going to jump up on stage and ruin everything."*

Billy J. showed up several minutes later, heard the name Peter Wolf, and without even knowing what we were talking about, said, "That guy's a whore."

Sure enough, Wolf jumped up on stage that night to join Springsteen in a rendition of "Dirty Water." While it certainly did not ruin the night, it was pretty annoying.

At Monday's U2 show, Bono acknowledged Wolf in the audience, along with retiring Globe music critic Steve Morse. Whether intentional or geographical, Wolf did not claw his way up to the stage and try to hog the spotlight...and I was grateful. I thought maybe he'd changed.

But just hours later at a party for Steve Morse at JJ Foley's, Wolf relapsed. Bono showed up late night to toast Morse and Morse, in turn, toasted Bono. It was a testament to their 25-year-long relationship as rock star and critic. It had nothing to do with Peter Wolf. But, unable to help himself, Wolf hopped up on a table, made a completely unneccessary statement,and proceeded to lead the crowd in "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." In short, he destroyed the moment, he ruined everything.

Have to hand it to you, James, you're spot on with this one. His behavior is likely what's keeping the J. Geils Band out of the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

06 December 2005

Sugar, Come On

Our determination to see U2 again began last Friday night when Ernie and I experienced a "sugar, come on" moment while listening to Original of the Species at the party. Neither of us had tickets to Monday night's show but a frantic Craig's List search and a shady transaction in the parking lot of the Hilltop Steak House in Saugus got us in the house - for face value no less!

We flew back down Route 1 to meet up with Auntie and Bags at the Greatest Bar where Auntie's company was hosting a dinner with, woo hoo, open bar. Thank you thank you, nameless biotech firm.

Auntie & Bags -- fellow devotees who've seen U2 about five times this year, including once in Ireland -- headed off to nameless biotech firm's corporate box.
Ernie and I headed off to our seats behind the stage, which to our delight, were just a few rows up from the ellipse. Tom and Dawnie, friends of a Garden VIP and VIPs in their own right, ended up in the VERY FRONT ROW, inches from the band.

(photos: Dawnie & Tom experience euphoria in the ellipse)

Ernie and I noted that we and our respective groups of friends are part of our own kind of species, a breed of 30+-ish folks who have not evolved in the all-too-typical fashion where passion gives way to self-imposed restraint, or the notion that enjoyment of live music has an expiration date. It's much more difficult to be spontaneous these days and we're usually just too dog-tired to make the effort. Sometimes it takes a night like this to remind you that if there is a way to swing it, then swing it. Or as my friend Colleen says, "you create your own experience."
Then again there are those for whom the opening notes of Where the Streets Have No Name at a live U2 show will never make their toes tingle. But they are not of our species.

City Of Blinding Lights, Hello, Goodbye (snippet) / , Vertigo / Dirty Water (snippet) / Take Me To The River (snippet), Elevation, Gloria, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / The Promised Land (snippet), Beautiful Day / Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) (snippet) / Jingle Bells (snippet), Original Of The Species / Norwegian Wood (snippet), Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own / The Black Hills of Dakota (snippet), Love And Peace Or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah (snippet), Bullet The Blue Sky / The Hands That Built America (snippet) / When Johnny Comes Marching Home (snippet), Miss Sarajevo, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Where The Streets Have No Name, One / She's A Mystery To Me (snippet)
encores: Until The End Of The World, Mysterious Ways / We Wish You A Merry Christmas (snippet) / The Battle Hymn Of The Republic (snippet), With Or Without You, Crumbs From Your Table, Instant Karma!, Yahweh, 40

comment: During Mysterious Ways, Bono brings two fans onstage, one dressed as Santa Claus and the other as Elvis Presley.

05 December 2005

The Merriest of Christmas Parties

Thanks to all whose good spirits made the First Annual Jackson Christmas Party a roaring success. We appreciate everyone's overwhelming generosity in the food and beverage departments as well as party gifts that were both unexpected and creative. From Liz playing Vince Guaraldi tunes on the piano early eve to Tom's acoustic set late night, we lit up Brookwood Road far beyond the requisite white Christmas lights. To view a slide show of the evening's festivities, click here

03 December 2005

This Band Collage is Driving Me to Drink

So much for going to sleep early! After an absolutely bashy 1st Annual Jackson Christmas Party, the house is still and quiet. It still reeks of mulled cider and firepit in here but the smell makes me happy because it serves as a constant reminder of the grand time we had last night. I think MULLED FIREPIT should be a new Yankee Candle scent -- it's making me that joyful.

So, it's 9 p.m. on a Saturday and everyone is sleeping. Caroline and Paulie are OUT. Vito is in a coma after being kept up past 3 a.m. by obstinate revelers. James is passed out - all banged up, an inevitable product of his own fueled-injected cider making. We were living in the seventh circle of hell today as babies and hangovers do not mix. I was in a horrible way until about an hour ago, but now I'm having a glass of wine and working on this frigging band collage. This one comes courtesy of Tom Haley. In the collage pictured above are images of different bands. How many bands is unclear but apparently Tom's up to 75. So far, I've got seven, but mine are the glaringly obvious ones that Vito could pick off in passing.

A detailed blog and photo upload on last eve's shindig will come as soon as I can find my camera!

02 December 2005

Cream Shop Friday: Hairway to Heaven

James lived in the city for nearly 15 years before returning to his South Shore suburban roots. While living in Charlestown and East Boston, his hair was butchered by barbers on Beacon Hill and East Cambridge. When I pleaded for him not to go back to these places, he began visiting a pseudo-gangsta barbershop in Orient Heights who shaved James' hair into a shape recalling the MC Hammer-era. Working in JP, he'd often go to Sebastian's barbershop in Roslindale Square where you get a "boy's regular" for $10 whether you're 10 or 80 years old. The "boy's regular," a style seen on less imaginative men and many, many Boston-area attorneys (except PM of course), is a style that is unnatural, unworthy and far too vanilla for James' thick Arab tresses. And it took awhile for James to come to terms with this. I was hoping he'd go to Maria or a salon with at least one gay man at the helm, but he said he refused to go to a "beauty shop" and pay $50 for a haircut. Down here, the salons have names like Hairway to Heaven and the Hairport, so I wasn't hopeful. However, after driving around Route 53 looking for a place to get his haircut, he happened on a salon, gave it a whirl, and got the best haircut of his life. While he was slightly traumatized from having his hair shampooed by a man, I could tell he was pleased with the results. Since then, he's found a few salons along 53 and in Boston where he can get his haircut for under $50 -- and the shampooing is optional.

Cream Shop Friday is a feature on this blog detailing the biggest distraction of the week.